A big part of what makes Flint Star The Movie a successful documentary is that Marcus was able to earn the trust of the people in the community. In the DVD you’ll see interviews with Mateen Cleaves, Eddie Robinson, Charlie Bell and countless respected coaches from Flint.
Marcus told me that, “It was a difficult task to get all of the interviews that I needed for the film. For the most part, I would just simply be everywhere in Flint all the time. I was always around the city filming and passing out free T-shirts, headbands, flyers, etc. Damn, I almost went broke! People would see me enough that they began to believe in my movement. At first, people thought that I was just a broke 22 year old kid with a Hi 8 camera and DV camera from Best Buy always around shooting basketball footage of Flint.”
The interview clips that made the documentary legit with people in Flint were the ones Marcus did with Mateen Cleaves. The two played against each other in high school, went to MSU together and had a connection from when Marcus did a campus show called “Big Thangs” where he interviewed the entire MSU basketball team.
Marcus told me that, “The Mateen Cleaves interview really made my product legit in Flint. I knew Mateen for a few years prior to making the film. We played against each other in Highschool. At the time, I was living in Grand Rapids Michigan and he was a rising star in Flint. I was playing in the famous Flint Pro AM league for highschools for the Grand Rapids area team. We played against his team and he gave me 30 points. At the time I didn’t know who he was, but after the game I knew. Later that year his Highschool Team Flint Northern faced my team Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills in the final eight of the state tournament. Needless to say, they beat us and went on to win the state title. I was a year older than him and went on to MSU (non basketball related). At MSU I had began to develop a name for myself due to my campus television show Big Thangs Productions. The entire MSU basketball was on one of our 27 episodes. Therefore, because of MSU I already had a working relationship with many of the Flint Bred MSU athletes. After college, I was taping footage at Flint Northern when I saw Mateen and explained my vision with the film. He agreed for the interview and the next morning I was taping footage at the Pistons practice arena. He is a guy who really loves Flint and is willing to do whatever to help kids in the city. His interview made other people want to be involved in the movie because he is truly a local hero.”
While watching the film Robinson came across as yet another spoiled athlete who had forgotten the community that helped raise him. When asked about Flint for the documentary he told Marcus that, “people don’t understand that 30 million ain’t 30 million. That *** cut down to 15. You gotta pay your agent a certain percentage and that’s cut down even more. Then you gotta pay yo’ bills. I’m staying in a million dollar house right now, so I gotta pay bills on this. My car costs 300 something thousand. I gotta pay bills on that. There ain’t really a lot of money floating around in here. People ain’t really educated enough to know that.”
The problem with this statement is that Robinson comes across as looking ignorant to the problems his community is facing. While he is living in excess the people he grew up with are struggling just to fill their bellies.
While watching the documentary one of the players that came across as a jerk was Eddie Robinson, yet Marcus has a completely different take on the former Bull. Marcus disagreed with my assessment of Eddie Robinson and started off our discussion by telling me that, “believe it or not, Eddie Robinson is probably one of the coolest and most down to earth multi-million dollar athletes that I have came across is my lifetime. The comment that he made will always sound absolutely crazy for 9-5 working class individuals like you and I. Right now, if I had 10 million dollars I would feel like I had 100 million. Hell, if I had 100,000 I would feel like I had a million! HAHAHA But you hear athletes say all the time that they need more money to feed their families and support their superstar lifestyles. He said that the more money that you make the more expensive things that you want. Like I said, crazy for us, but everyday reality of super rich entertainers. But regardless of the comment, Eddie is truly one of the most genuine people that I have encountered in my short film career.”
Later in our discussion he told me that, “Eddie Robinson was a different case. I did not know him and I did not have an inside connection with him. I had to send letters to all of the athletes from Flint throughout my filming process. I wrote letters to (male & female) coaches, athletes, principals, agents, teams, etc. Eddie Robinson’s agent got my letter from the Bulls and gave me a call. I explained the film and what I was trying to accomplish. He told me to meet his client in the morning at the Bulls facility. Luckily, I was teaching summer school and I did not have to work on Fridays so I made the trip with my cousin, went to a couple of clubs in Chicago to the early morning, slept in the car near the facility so I would not be late for the 8:00am interview, washed up in a Shell gas station bathroom and made the interview. Eddie was really cool. We hit it off right away. He suggested that we take the interview back to his home and complete the shooting. We spent hours at his home eating, playing video games and talking about life in Flint. To this day, he may contact me just to see what’s up.”
Maybe Puff Daddy was right when he said, “it’s like the more money we come across,
The more problems we see.”